3 min read
04 Mar

Hot Chocolate
“Pacman! Jodie! How lovely to see you!” Otso greeted them as they appeared out of thin air in his house, sounding surprised and delighted to see them. However, as always, he had two steaming mugs of hot chocolate waiting for them as if he had known they were coming before they knew themselves. He handed them one each and they took them gratefully. How Otso always knew when they were coming was a complete mystery, and Jodie and Pacman had simply come to expect that this was how they would be welcomed. Jodie had also come to expect that her books would be lined up on the shelf, which they were, alongside Otso’s massive collection, which she hoped to spend some time reading one day. She also knew that she would get jumped on by Lucky, the dog that she had rescued from the Titanic. Although he was tiny, the force of his affection would almost knock her over and she would be dripping wet from his little licks and kisses. The final thing that she had come to expect from visiting Otso was the haunting, beautiful song of Mooshka, the tiny troll. Melodies of welcome would always fill the air when they arrived but today there was only silence. Her friend and fellow adventurer, Kai, was sitting by the little doll’s house that had been home to Mooshka since he arrived at Otso’s. He didn’t look happy. Jodie and Pacman moved over to him. "Good to see you, mate,” Pacman said excitedly, not at all sensitive to the fact that his friend looked sad. “Want to come on an adventure? Jodie’s out and about again.” Kai’s little face managed a sad smile. “What’s up?” Jodie asked.“It’s Mooshka.”All three of them peeked into the house and at the little creature living there. He was sitting in the corner reading a tiny book called The Lonely Unicorn. He didn’t even look up at the children. He looked so unhappy. What’s wrong with him?”Kai moved his friends away so that they could talk without Mooshka hearing.“I think he’s lonely or bored. I don’t know. He just keeps reading that book and doesn’t sing anymore.”“His whole family died. I’d be upset if I had no one in the world,” Pacman said and immediately wished he hadn’t. He could see that Jodie’s face had dropped, thinking about her parents, and he didn’t know what to say. “Sorry,” was all he could think of and surprisingly, Jodie started to smile.“It’s all right, Pacman. My parents are going to be absolutely fine and me being miserable isn’t going to help them. I owe it to them to live for all three of us until they’re better.”“Wow! Good for you,” Pacman smiled. He didn’t know if he could be as strong if the same happened to his mum and dad.“So, what can we do?” Jodie asked, returned to the Mooshka problem.“I don’t know. I asked if he wants to go home to Sweden but he said he wants to stay here. He loves me and Otso. I just don’t know what to do.”At that point Otso came over and dropped his hand on his nephew’s shoulder. “Try not to worry, son,” he said. “You’ll work out what to do. In the meantime, you must follow Jodie’s example; she has found the strength to put a smile on her face and you must do the same. Nothing is solved by glum inactivity.”Kai attempted a small smile.“That’s better. Now come, sit at the table and we can all catch up and finish our hot chocolate.” Between the smiling, the hot chocolate and the catching up, they really did all feel quite good by the time they had empty mugs. Pacman had told his story of the data monster and how he had been stuck playing video games. He felt as if he had fell out of life for a little while, but was so happy to be amongst friends again. Otso and Kai shared word of their daily lives in Finland and Jodie spoke about boring school and visiting her parents. In all the excitement, however, Jodie had completely forgotten about seeing Ms Noble, but she now had the chance to tell her friends about this. When she had finished her tale they all agreed that she couldn’t be sure that it was really Ms Noble and she should forget about it. She wasn’t completely convinced by this, but she had managed to run away and escape so she was happy to put it behind her whether it was Ms Noble or not. She had now broken up for the school holidays and didn’t have to see Ms Noble for ages, so there really was no harm done. The conversation finally came round to where the trio would visit on their next adventure now that they were back together and it soon became clear that none of them had the first idea of where they wanted to go and they were all soon giggling about it. They could go absolutely anywhere and do absolutely anything in the world and not one of them had the first idea what they wanted to do. It was like the first day of a summer holiday that they had waited so long for without really planning any activities, or like having a pocket full of money with no idea of how to spend it.“May I offer a suggestion?” Otso said and then dropped a leaflet on the table. Jodie picked it up and read aloud:“Victorian Rose Fairground.” She read the description to herself, scanned the pictures on the bright red flyer then said, “Wow! A Victorian Funfair. That looks amazing.”Pacman took the leaflet from her and looked over the creaky-looking rides and kiddie entertainment with raised eyebrows. “Alton Towers looks better from around 2019, with that big rollercoaster that actually comes off the rails at the end and flings the whole thing into the air on elastic or bungee, or whatever it is.” He demonstrated the ride with his hand as he spoke, launching his hand into the air as high as he could reach and then crashing it down headfirst at the table, making a terrifying explosion noise as he did it.“That sounds great,” Kai agreed, suddenly sitting up in his seat and looking much happier, but Jodie felt that jiggly tummy feeling as soon as she looked at the fairground leaflet. This was somewhere that she needed to go.“Let’s go!” Pacman said and he and Kai got their library cards out.“Wait!”“Alton Towers 2019,” they both said, ignoring Jodie, and disappeared in front of her eyes to ride the mighty Rollerfly 4000.“Hmmpf!” Jodie sighed and folded her arms.“Don’t worry, Jodie. Maybe it will be best for you to go alone. You see, I have it on good authority that someone there knows where to find a very special book.”“What book?” Jodie asked, her eyes lighting up at the mention of the word.“Well, that’s the funny thing, my dear. I don’t actually know. Only to say that it is very special and someone at the Victorian Rose Fairground knows where it can be found.”Jodie scratched her head and scrunched her eyebrows together. She loved a good quest and she loved books even more, but this really wasn’t much to go on. However, this quest would give her the chance to go back to her beloved Victorian period and see a real, live, old-fashioned fairground. She had seen one in books but never thought to visit one.“Okay,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to find anything but I’ll give it a go.”“That’s brilliant, Jodie. As you know, I have many special books, but something tells me that this will be the most special of them all. ”In that case I’ll give it my very best,” she told him and pulled out her library card. “To the Victorian Rose.”

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